Dan Friedlander's San Francisco designer furniture store, Limn, was once a local institution, so it isn't surprising that the Californian has created a truly spectacular private exhibition space in his Dairy Flat home north of Auckland, which he shares with his wife Kazuyo and daughter Hanna.
Still active in Sacramento, where he is establishing a new farmers' market, Dan spends about half the year here in New Zealand, a place he loves for its clean, green characteristics.
He and Kazuyo have embraced the slow-food movement that has burgeoned north of Auckland in the past decade - a passion evident in their wonderful, tiered vegetable garden. "This is an ideal way of living," says Dan.
The house, which they bought seven years ago, was once part of a hospital on Auckland's Ascot Ave and was moved to the Rodney District by a previous owner.
Its high ceilings and period features make it the perfect environment for the couple's eclectic collection of art and antiques. Visitors are greeted by a huge, light-filled lobby. To the left is a spacious country-style kitchen, living and dining space, while further along the hall lies the enormous lounge with a dramatic bay window and open fire.
The arrangement creates a bed-and-breakfast experience for guests: the hosts' quarters are separate from the suites that can be used to accommodate homestays. They include two bedrooms - one with its own woodburner - and a shared, semi-en suite.
There is one guest room on this floor, with a nifty shower and toilet arrangement beyond what, at first glance, appear to be ordinary cupboard doors. The guest wing has been added to the original dwelling and is reached via a handsome, hand-carved staircase.
Upstairs are two more suites, each with its own bathroom facilities. This part of the house could be used for an extended family arrangement - or as a private bolthole for teenagers.
Back on the ground floor, at the opposite end from the lounge, is a well-equipped laundry and ironing room.
There is plenty of storage space and internal access to a three-car garage, complete with a mechanic's pit. It's perfect for a motorhead who likes to tinker away somewhere quiet.
Though the house is intriguing, the surrounding section offers surprises, too. A large solar panel produces more than enough energy to power all the buildings on the site. A beautifully appointed caretaker's cottage that sleeps up to two people, built by Dan and Kazuyo, can also be used as a holiday let or rental property. In yet another commercial venture, the Friedlanders have installed a huge glasshouse, sourced from Texas, on-site. "It came all this way and not one pane was broken," says Kazuyo proudly. "The biggest problem was that the instructions were all in imperial measures and our young builders only knew metric."
The glasshouse can accommodate up to 100 people, making it ideal for small weddings, conferences or family celebrations. An outdoor kitchen, with barbecues and a pizza oven, ensures that events run smoothly. If that's not enough, the property also enjoys its own orchard - along with a chicken coop and quail hutch. "I just love quail eggs," confesses Kazuyo.
There are paddocks for animals, extensive grassy areas, a stream boundary and even bushwalks that showcase local flora and bird-life.
Close to the Silverdale off-ramp, the property is within easy driving distance to the city. The new Auckland Council Unitary Plan allows for further development, including subdivision.
Dan, Kazuyo and Hanna are planning to move even further north. "That's how much we love the country life here in New Zealand," says Dan.